White People, You’re Still Not Listening

kids-churchI know there are quite a few who don’t believe it, but racism is still alive and well in the USA. I’ve seen people flat out deny it. The racism-deniers are, in my experience, always white. And all day today I’ve seen white people CONTINUE to act in racist ways.

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke is calling Donald Trump’s electoral victory “one of the most exciting nights of my life.”

In North Carolina, people of color had been called the n-word while trying to go into a store.

I’m not saying that racism is back on the scene in a new way. I AM saying that the current climate in the USA has created a place where racists feel free to express their views. Go read the comments section on ANY social media site or News story and you cannot avoid the racist comments, slurs, and insults.

hillary-41775_1280And this is NOT to say that everyone who voted Republican is racist. Not at all. I know good Christian men and women who are Republicans and regularly vote that way. But we cannot deny that the Republican Party has become the landing zone for terrible attitudes, thoughts, and actions. These are the kinds of people Hillary Clinton infamously put in “a basket of deplorables.” Not every Republican – just the deplorable ones.

The problem is that many Republicans approach the current issue of racism from their own lens and say, “I’m not racist, and my family members aren’t racist, so people who complain about racism are just inventing problems.” White people are STILL not listening.

The Bible uses the word “listen” over 600 times. There’s something to be said about hearing – really listening and not missing out on the conversation. For example:

  • If you listen for Lady Wisdom, attune your ears to her, and engage your mind to understand what she is telling you… (Proverbs 2:2)
  • All who have ears to hear, let them listen. (Mark 4:9)

And what conservative whites need to hear is that people of color are genuinely concerned. The safe space created for racists to speak openly is a threat to brown-skinned people. I cannot tell you (literally) how many times I’ve seen people talk or write about “white genocide” and that we need to save the white race. But behavior that pushes away and harms people of color is NOT a biblical attitude or characteristic. The Bible IS filled with words about helping outsiders and loving the outcast.

He enforces His justice for the powerless, such as orphans and widows, and He loves foreigners, making sure they have food and clothing. (Deuteronomy 10:18)

It’s time for white Christians to ACTUALLY listen. It’s time to recognize that we have for too long been dismissive of the thoughts and feelings of anyone who is different – the outsiders. Then it’s time to act in solidarity and say, “We have heard your voice, and we stand in solidarity that this is not acceptable.”

  • Denounce white pride/white power movements.
  • Look for ways where we can actually listen to the voice of the “other” and not be dismissive.
  • Be an active participant in bringing reconciliation between all people.

What do you think? Have you heard any of these racist remarks or seen any racist behavior? Share your story! Just be polite – I will not tolerate rudeness.

** Author’s Note – the original post mentioned a KKK march in North Carolina. Those reports have been debunked – it was a pro-Trump group participating in the “Flagging 40” event. There was no connection there to the KKK.

When the KKK Infiltrates Your Church

churchSo there I was talking to another pastor about race issues in the church. He told me about a friend of his (yes, I know that this would never be admissible in a court of law, but it’s just a story, so chill) who was pastoring down south. The pastor was new to the church, and when a black family visited one Sunday the board later asked the pastor what he was going to do about it.

His response? “I’m not going to do anything about it.”

But the family visited again. And the pastor was summoned to a special meeting with the board. Upon entering the meeting, the board members pulled out their wallets and showed the pastor that they were all card-carrying members of the Ku Klux Klan. ku klux klan

I don’t know how that story ends. That wasn’t the point of our conversation. Our conversation revolved around people who consider themselves to be Christians yet behave in ways that many Christians believe to be contrary to how authentic disciples of Jesus behave.

But here’s the thing: we can’t tell people what they are. Or aren’t. people are allowed to self-identify however they like. Oh, sure, we can tell people that we don’t think their way of doing things fits into the mold, but people don’t usually listen when we try to tell them what they are.

Like an article I saw from not too long ago. A local KKK leader in Virginia claims that the KKK is a Christian organization. They just want to make sure that the white race stays white and isn’t diluted. As he says:

It’s not a hateful thing to want to maintain white supremacy.
Yet I would like to think that the majority of Christians in the world recognize that the KKK is NOT a christian organization. It’s not merely about history and heritage.ku klux klan with flag They’ve done some really atrocious things and propagate animosity and hatred towards other human beings.

But here’s the kicker: I think it IS possible for Christians to be card-carrying members of the KKK.

Don’t misunderstand me. I think the KKK is unequivocally evil. But humanity is predisposed to be evil. It’s in our nature. In theological terms we call it sin-nature. Left to our own devices there is no way we can ever achieve heaven – we will simply never be good enough. That’s the whole point of the cross – Jesus paid the price for sin because the price was TOO steep for us ever to pay.

For Christians, that means we’re all a bunch of sinners in the same boat. We’re simply on different places of our spiritual paths. Some of us are farther along than others. Some of us still have a long way to go. But faith in Christ isn’t predicated on a list of rules and behaviors. The Apostle Paul never said, “Give up all your old ways, come to Christ, and then you’ll be saved.” That’s getting the order mixed up.

We come to Christ FIRST. Then our behavior ought to be in an ever-evolving state as we grow in our Christ-likeness. I’m fond of saying:

God loves you as you are, but God does not love the way you are.

As we mature in our faith, the old way SHOULD die out. Can a Klansman be a believer? Sure, just like the Christian-murdering Paul could come to faith. But after Paul started the road of faith HE CHANGED. This is where the rubber meets the road. God loves everyone, but authentic faith brings us to a place where we are no longer the same.

Can the Christian church have Klan members in it? Yes. I would hope it did. Just as I would hope the church would have drug addicts, drug dealers, spouse abusers, porn addicts, tax-evaders, and any other horrible thing you can think of. If the church isn’t reaching sinners then we’re not doing our job.

But the beginning-of-the-journey sinner can’t stay that way. It’s not enough to come to Jesus if we refuse to change. When it comes down to it, though, it’s not our place to force change. We can welcome people and speak the truth as we know it. Then we need to trust God to do the real work of changing hearts. Because my words will most likely never change hearts. That’s not my job – it’s God’s.

That means we should treat people with a whole lotta grace, even when they’re on a different part of the journey than we are. You might have a Klansman in your church. Who knows where God will have him this time next year.

May God be patient with us all as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Him.

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